Prior to Brooklyn’s 113-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, Big D’s owner was asked about Williams and the state of the Nets. When steered in the direction of admitting that the Nets weren’t contenders, yet still strapped for cash, Cuban concurred (via Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com):
The Brooklyn Nets are a playoff team. But they are not viewed as a championship contender, and are going to have a difficult time upgrading their roster going forward because they’re well over the salary cap.
“That’s the position we didn’t want to be in,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told reporters prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Nets.
When you’re right, you’re right. And Cuban is right.
Brooklyn is shelling out nearly $88 million in payroll this season, has nearly $90 million on the books for next season, $78 million heading into 2014-15 and $73 million for 2015-16. Can you say “luxury taxed beyond reason?”
I know Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov can. He’s the one that’s going to be footing the bill for a team that no one considers a a legitimate contender. Why? Well, because they’re not a contender.
Nothing especially scares you about the Nets. Brook Lopez and Williams can go off, Gerald Wallace can play defense and score a little, Joe Johnson is an inefficient volume scorer who’s name is on the cusp of being used as a verb (“That dude is Joe Johnsoning”), and the rest of the roster is filled with Reggie Evans’ and Kris Humphries’.
Neither is anyone else.
Sitting 12 games over .500 (40-28), Brooklyn just isn’t receiving the attention their record would suggest they should. Perhaps it’s the fact that despite what was once considered a wealth of offensive weapons, the Nets are 18th in points scored (95.8). Maybe it’s because they have one of the top point guards in the league but rank 28th in assists per game (20.1). Or maybe it’s the dollars and cents of it all.
The entire Eastern Conference is measured against the Miami Heat and thus far, no one comes close to touching them. Especially the Nets. Brooklyn is 0-3 on the season against LeBron James and company, losing by an average of 21 points per game. Yikes.
Everything teams do in the east is done with the Heat in mind. If you can’t beat them, though, you’re supposed to adjust your roster so you can contend with them the following season. The Nets don’t have that ability.
What we see with Brooklyn is what we’re going to get for the next few years. Barring any surprise trades, the Nets don’t have the means to get better.
Which is unfortunate.
Because as Cuban points out, they’re not good enough as is.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.